Date Published: 01/07/2007 [Source]
A bird's nest nestled in the tall grasses of a wetland symbolizes the end of a 20-year struggle to clean up a site contaminated by radioactive material from a former Cold War-era uranium processing plant. After years of often-contentious public meetings, lawsuits and relentless lobbying, the land is now devoid of 1.5 million tons of its most dangerous waste and has begun its transformation into an undeveloped park and wildlife haven covered with woods, prairie and wetlands.
The questions started in the 1970s. The Department of Energy in 1979 found that radon gas had been leaking from storage silos for years. Residents worried that radioactive uranium contamination found in the air, water and soil could lead to cancer and other diseases. Workers were concerned about risks from uranium and from radon gas and toxic chemicals stored on the site.